I am struggling, living in this pandemic world, that is now our new normal. I have been struggling over the past 4 months trying to juggle school, my mental health, other health concerns, and pandemic life. It has been hard. And I think it is only going to be harder from this point on. The past couple of days I have felt completely overwhelmed with everything. I feel like I am treading water and not making any progress. I am having a bad brain day. I am stuck in a mental fog. I am lost in my own thoughts. I am dealing with so many feelings, yet I feel numb at the same time. I could cry for hours yet the tears will not fall. I write this as my entire body vibrates with anxiety.
I wish I could say I have been quiet and have not been blogging because life has been going super amazing. But if 2020 has taught me anything, it is that nothing is as at seems. To expect the unexpected. Well, the unexpected happened. In late September early October, we found out that my Mom has breast cancer. My world turned upside down the day she said she found a lump.
Living in the COVID-19 pandemic, losing loved ones, and dealing with the grief, online distance learning, no job, social distancing, masks, mental illness struggles…and now cancer. Everything I thought I knew, 2020 has made me second guess it or taught me some damn hard lessons. I have said it before, and I will continue to say it. I am used to people leaving my life due to a variety of reasons, but a lot has been because of my mental illness battles, or me being “too much” or simply growing apart. But I found out firsthand that it is true when people say that you learn who you can really count on when someone you love goes through cancer. Believe me, I get it that everyone is going through their own stuff and we are living in a pandemic. But the people who have left or disappeared into the background are the ones I never imagined would leave. So, I made it simple, they do not “think” we should be friends anymore, okay…goodbye. They think that they can maybe only cheer me on from a distance, okay…goodbye. 2020 has been full of goodbyes, both good and bad ones, easy ones, and hard ones. Let me tell you that I am not going to sit here, try to force some sort of relationship with someone who will not put the same amount of effort in, that I am. That is a hard no from me. I have done it before, and it is completely draining. If someone can cut you out of their life so quickly, with no explanation, why would you want them in your life?
2020 has taught me that I can do this on my own. That I can count on myself when there is no one else around to help. That I have got my own back. And that I can pick myself up no matter how many times I have fallen and will continue to do so.
I am so vocal with my story. Sharing my struggles, because the amount of stigma that still surrounds mental health and mental illness is disgusting as far as I am concerned. Yes, we have come such a long way, but it is still not enough. I wish we lived in a time that I did not have to say, “I’m not feeling well” when realistically I want to say, “My anxiety is bad, and I can’t leave the house right now” or “I’m sitting in my room, on the floor, in front of my closet, bawling because I can’t decide on what to wear.” Or “I can’t deal with large, loud crowds today”. It has become the norm. To hide behind the “I’m not feeling well” sentence because it’s easier and more acceptable than to say “Shit, I’m sorry but my mental illness is really bad today”. I have found that if I say, “I’m not feeling well” I get more of an empathetic response, “I hope you feel better soon”. But if I say “I’m having a bad day mentally and I don’t think I can handle it” I get a “oh, okay” type of response. I have learned to use the “I’m not feeling well” to protect myself from stigmas and from getting hurt. I hope in the future I do not have to continue to feel the need to hide my illness out of fear.
A friend recently reached out to me and told me that I am an inspiration to them. I didn’t know what to say at first. It caught me completely off guard. It’s still hard for me to believe in myself, as my anxiety and depression hang in the background reminding me of every mistake I have ever made and why I feel so alone. I’ve also had friends reach out while they were struggling, and they needed someone to validate their feelings. Because let me tell you there is NOTHING more debilitating than someone dismissing your feelings or symptoms. I know if you have never experienced a mental illness personally or witnessed a loved one go through it; it can be hard to understand when someone shares their struggles. Just please think before you answer, be honest if you don’t know how to respond. I’d rather hear “I’m sorry to hear you are struggling, I’m just not sure what to say” or “Is there something I can do to help?” instead of “It’ll be fine, you’re fine” or “Some people have it harder”. If someone has given me a lame response like “It’ll all work out, don’t worry” I will respond to them with a quote of something that would have been more helpful than what they said. Maybe it’s a little intense or some people may even think it is rude, but if what someone is saying is in fact hurting more than helping, I will call them on that every damn time.
YOUR FEELINGS, YOUR EMOTIONS ARE VALID. AND YOU DESERVE TO BE HEARD. Just because the chronic illness I live with isn’t visible does NOT make me any less of a person or that my health shouldn’t be taken seriously. I will fight this fight until I feel that I no longer have to hide behind “I’m not feeling well.”
You ARE an inspiration to more people than you know. I hope one day that the only time you will have to say “I’m not feeling well”, is only when you have the sniffles or something very minor. I am so proud of you Hilary.
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